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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 16:12 GMT
'Latchkey' dogs in sheep attacks
Sheep
Seven sheep were killed in the latest dog attack
Latchkey pets are being blamed for a series of savage attacks on sheep in County Durham.

In the latest incident a farmer shot two Rottweiler-type dogs seen attacking sheep on his land near Durham city.

Peter Harle lost seven animals in the incident, which police have admitted is not an isolated one.

Now farmers' leaders want tough action to be taken against the owners of dogs found to be roaming at night.

'Rural life'

Mr Harle, who owns Brandon Hall Farm, says ewes were killed by dogs from a nearby housing estate that had been left out to roam during the night.

He said: "These were breeding ewes which are worth a considerable amount of money.

"The dogs that I saw were big, strong Rottweiler crosses that took a lot of stopping.

"The state of society is worrying at the moment because the police don't seem to have the powers they need to deal with people who own these types of dogs.

"This type of thing knocks the stuffing out of you and it just seems that people don't understand the rural way of life."

Brian Hodgson, chair of the National Farmers Union for the North Riding and Durham, said: "We are farming on the urban fringe.

"We have people who just let dogs out at night to roam and do as they want.

Terriers involved

"It is not really the dogs' fault, but they can do a tremendous amount of damage to livelihoods."

Mr Hodgson said alsations, lurchers and even terriers had been involved in sheep attacks in the county.

He said: "Once a dog gets a taste for blood it's almost impossible to stop it without killing it."

A spokesman for Durham Police said the incident at Mr Harle's farm was "horrific".

But he said compensation was unlikely to be paid unless the owner of the attacking dogs could be traced.

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 ON THIS STORY
Farmer Peter Harle
"These savage attacks affect our livelihoods"

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See also:

16 Aug 01 | Media reports
24 Oct 00 | N Ireland
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